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FBI Turns 105

On July 26, 1908—105 years ago today—Attorney General Charles Bonaparte announced to his U.S. attorneys that he had organized a small force of detectives under Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch. Bonaparte considered the new force an experiment—he didn’t even name it—but he assured Congress he was monitoring the new group of investigators closely. It started slowly, but that unnamed force has evolved into today’s FBI—a full-fledged national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities that works across the globe to combat the most dangerous threats facing our nation.

Jul 26, 2013 09:30 AM
 

FBI Turns 105


On July 26, 1908—105 years ago today—Attorney General Charles Bonaparte announced to his U.S. attorneys that he had organized a small force of detectives under Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch. He told his attorneys to contact Finch if they needed a special agent to gather evidence for a prosecution.

At first, Finch had command of 34 detectives; some had been peonage (forced labor) or white-collar investigators, and seven or eight were hired from the U.S. Secret Service (then part of the Treasury Department). All told, the new group was responsible for conducting investigations across the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. The scope of its responsibilities was wide, but encompassed only two dozen or so matters, a combination of federal crimes and national security functions.

Bonaparte considered the new force an experiment—he didn’t even name it, leaving that to the next attorney general who took over eight months later—but he assured Congress he was monitoring the new group of investigators closely. It started slowly, but that unnamed force has evolved into today’s FBI—a full-fledged national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities that works across the globe to combat the most dangerous threats facing our nation.

Learn more about FBI history